Melissa Farley, comparing actions and alliances to her words

Farley has published more than 25 peer-reviewed publications on sexual violence, prostitution and trafficking. She has spoken with a thousand women, men, and the transgendered in prostitution in 10 countries on 5 continents. She talks about the psychological harm of prostitution, her expertise based upon interviewing 1,000 women men and transgendered prostitutes. Ms. Farley presents herself as a strong advocate for prostitutes. Perhaps she is. But there are also actions and alliances from her past which challenge the credibility of her understanding of the psychology of prostitutes. In 1996 Ms. Farley along with Nikki Craft wrote “Why I Made The Choice to Become a Prostitute“. Perhaps they felt it was comical and amusing to insult the intelligence of prostitutes, to imply that prostitutes are motivated by sexual desires for their step fathers, even comparing prostitutes to being grade A ground beef and the cow simultaneously. Many women that identify as survivors of prostitution have written to Ms. Farley stating their concerns about this piece. These women in prostitution’s viewpoints were ignored or perhaps not pertinent because she was not studying them or already had. Why would a researcher with more than 25 peer-reviewed publications on sexual violence, prostitution and trafficking feel that such a piece below, after being reviewed by survivors of prostitution, sex workers, advocates of sex workers and strongly opposed continue to stand behind such a condescending and insulting literary publication?

Ms. Farley maintains a strong alliance to activist Nikki Craft, sharing publication credits, by Craft’s definition being close colleagues of thirty years. Ms. Craft in her website Always Causing Legal Unrest advocates the firebombing of porn stores, promising to publish the pictures of porn stores that have been the target of radical feminist arsonists guaranteeing confidentiality. While they and others oppose pornography, is arson a valid method of opposition? What if there were people inside? Whether they be employees, customers, even porn actresses themselves, do they deserve to be injured or killed in a firebombing? Is it ethical to publicize this type of action guaranteeing the confidentiality of the criminal? Would that confidentiality extend even if there were deaths? It does not state otherwise in the Always Causing Legal Unrest website which Ms. Craft owns, Nikki Craft and other radical feminists support through their publication of literary works upon. See “One Hot Shot, Burn Baby Burn, Madison Wisconsin Porn Shop Burning and further states in red “WANTED ONE HOT Shot! Large Detailed (!) Picture of Porn Shop Burning! The website proclaims “There are visitors to the ACLU website who have hot fantasies about burning porn stores down. If you have any pictures let us know and we’ll post them on this site for your viewing enjoyment. Privacy will be Protected”

Chilean Sex Worker Rights Advocate and SWOP East Latin America’s advisory board member Beatriz Mercado stated upon reading “Why I Made the Choice to Become A Prostitute” that she could not believe women would write such a piece instead expecting that kind of mockery and vitriol towards prostitutes be the work of junior high school boys. Instead, much to Beatriz’ shock it is the work of a prostitution expert who proudly states her understanding of the psychology of women in prostitution and her ally.

Ms. Farley in her recent study in Nevada stated “30% of her funding was from the Trafficking in Persons Office of the US State Dept” which if the case represents an important question of whether the US State Department is aware they are giving grant money to researchers collaborating openly with an activist advocating felony criminal actions that could easily lead to serious injury or death openly proclaiming she would obstruct justice in the event her invitation to arsonists is taken at face value.

These are important facts to consider when pondering the expertise, ethical basis and independence of the studies

Nikki Craft and Melissa Farley

co-authored the following article

I became a prostitute because . . .

1. I saw Pretty Baby and it reminded me of my stepfather and I thought I could get paid for it.

2. I saw Pretty Woman and I liked the clothes.

3. I saw a Demi Moore movie and I thought, Wow, what an easy and fun way to make a million dollars.

4. I like getting fucked by the football team, the fraternity brothers, and law students at graduation parties. I realized that gang rape could be a transcendental experience.

5. I figured that laying on my back and getting fucked by hundreds of men, and getting on my knees and sucking thousands of dicks, was the most profound empowerment a woman could have.

6. My vocational counselor and I discussed a whole lot of possibilities: doctor, lawyer, women’s-studies teacher, legal secretary. I was offered a four-year scholarship at Stanford, but frankly, prostitution seemed the most rewarding job option available.

7. I worship the goddess and she told me, “Fuck mankind.” I misunderstood her spiritual message and found myself in lifetime sexual servitude instead.

8. I came to appreciate the depth of Hugh Hefner’s, Larry Flynt’s, and Bob Guccione’s understanding of my sexuality.

9. My boyfriend wanted me to do it. He said that being part of a stable of whores who worked for him could help me learn how to get along with other women.

10. My father wanted me to do it.

11. I met a nice man on alt.sex.prostitution.

12. Camille Paglia told me it was the feminist thing to do.

13. I felt coerced by my landlord, the day-care center, the utility companies, the grocer, my dealer and my plastic surgeons to pay my bills every month.

14. I didn’t want to work at Red Lobster.

15. I wanted to be treated like a lady.

16. I went to COYOTE’s Halloween extravaganza, the Hookers’ Ball, and found out just how glamorous prostitution could be.

17. It’s complicated, but I thought that working in the sex industry would increase my self-esteem. It’s sort of like saying to the world, “I am the best Grade A ground beef” and being the cow.

18. And then, ya know, even though it all sounded really good, and selling fucks and blow jobs sounded really empowering, I realized that talking about it and writing books defending it would be even more empowering.

31 Responses

  1. They are the linch mob aren’t they.

  2. the whole “selling books” line is particularly ironic, all things considered, isn’t it.

    yeah, that really blows. some people need to grow the hell up.

  3. I know you’ve posted this before Jill, but thanks for looking further into the writing of this list. It if weren’t for you, I wouldn’t know this awful piece existed.

    It’s one thing if someone says something in the heat of an argument they have to apologize for later. It’s quite something else when someone who professes to be an advocate (for whatever issue) sits down and works out a statement that mocks the very issue they’re supposedly working for.

    Since this writing was not qualified by the authors as satire or as making a larger point, it’s highly offensive to me. This is something I’d expect to see in a HUSTLER cartoon, not from female academics (supposedly) working for the benefit of prostitutes.

    XX

  4. well, and to never ever ever apologize or even acknowledge that gee, a lot of people have a problem with this, and not just the “happy hookers” (whatever) either. like, the actual population you’re supposedly representing, a lot of them? and particularly if you’ve never done it yourself? (neither Farley nor Craft have, right?) pretty tacky.

  5. i have yet to find a stripper-memoir that has earned out its advance. and that is just one segment of the larger pool of sexwork-memoirs.

    i don’t believe ms. cutler earned out her advance, and probably the two most successful sexwork-memoirs i can think of, by belle de jour and tracy quan, are extremely protective of their true identities. it is not unlikely belle de jour’s use of ‘anonymous’ contributed to her sales figures, as with tracy quan’s open fictionalising of what is partially her own industry experience.

    it’s telling that there is a stereotype that women writing about the work sell lots of copies and/or make lots of money from the writing when it is fairly easy to demonstrate otherwise.

    that said, i’ve heard 5, 9, 14, and 15 on that list given as reasons for entering into sexwork. but there are better ways to open up that area of discussion. because i do think the reasons why are important (reasons in general, not a rudely written list). i mean, 15 alone (though delivered with sarcasm in the above instance) is a really powerful and illuminating reason. 9 is interesting for the lines that separate pimps from ‘supportive boyfriends’ who are sometimes not actually supporting anything other than their own fantasies.

    farley is obviously willing to talk at the women doing the work, but i do wonder if she will ever talk to them or with them.

  6. “Farley is obviously willing to talk at the women doing the work, but i do wonder if she will ever talk to them or with them.”

    In one sentence you’ve summarized exactly why many of us participate on this blog.

  7. Torduange, thanks for blogging over here. You’re spot on,

  8. In response to “I Became a Prostitute Because….,” that piece is disgusting beyond words and not at all funny. If Melissa Farley and Nikki Craft actually wrote that, then I ask them the following: “If you really think that all prostitution is horrendous and all prostitutes are victims, why are you joking about prostitution, why are you making fun of sex workers and sex worker advocates, and why do you use hate speech against sex workers?” When I say hate speech, I’m referring specifically to the term “whore” used in a negative way. I realize the the word whore has been used in positive ways, and I accept that. However, when that word is used in negative, anti-sex work ways, then it becomes hate speech.
    If Farley and Craft wrote that, then they are even more disgusting then I thought and such hypocrites.

  9. “If Farley and Craft wrote that”

    Its credited to Farley and Craft over on Craft’s website (with a “Copyright © 1996 Nikki Craft” thrown in for good measure), so I don’t think its a matter of “if”.

  10. Wow. The intellectual level of this group is far below what I would have imagined. Too bad.

    It’s called satire and irony people. Look into it.

    If you honestly believe Craft and Farley believed these things themselves then you are just sad sad people who cannot read or think for yourselves.

  11. If the intellectual level of this group is merely average (which is nothing to be ashamed of), then their response to the article shows how the average person perceives the piece.

    The piece is hostile whether or not it’s intended to be an ironic statement on the attitudes of SWR advocates.

    And re statements by anybody about what anybody who cares about prostitutes should or would think, people can disagree and still be caring. The assumption that anybody who disagrees with the suggested legal solutions of prostitution acitivists is automatically pro-prostitution-and-anti-woman is one of the great logical fallicies of many of these debates. Accusations of “pimp” are often levelled quite freely at people who merely disagree with whether or not the policies are even implementable–and this hyperbole can do nothing but dilute the definition of the word pimp.

    Snottiness by anybody on either side is counterproductive and is evidence of a low intellectual level. And I think snottiness characterizes much of what I’ve experienced in discussions between abolitionists and decrim. The piece is snotty and spiteful, whether it’s satire or not. Satire can be poorly done, and this is a great example of attempting to be humourous and coming out sounding merely hostile–it’s not at all of a high intellectual level, it’s just a sloppily exceuted inside joke. It’s very Heathers.

    There are many sincere anti-prostitution activists who might find the tone of the piece inappropriate. The tone is VERY disturbing.

  12. >Wow. The intellectual level of this group is far below what I would have imagined. Too bad.

    It’s called satire and irony people. Look into it.>

    Wow, the same “you have no sense of humor” bluster that every misogynist, racist, homophobe, or any other asshole bully/enabler has ever tried to cover his ass with.

    The reason people weren’t laughing, Janfray, is that they didn’t find it funny.

    When large numbers of people who were the target of your “humor” don’t find your “humor” funny, then the problem lies not with their sense of humor or their intelligence (welcome, by the way), but with you.

    Look into it.

  13. Janfray,

    If “Why I Chose to Become a Prostitute” were published in if Penthouse or Playboy would radical feminists see this as satire? I doubt it.

    Since survivors of prostitution were also openly critical of this piece, not just sex worker rights activists, apparently their voices, those that Farley does research on and bases her career on mean nothing?

    So I’m assuming if a pro life extremist posts pics of a firebombed abortion clinic as satire you would assume that was just good fun?

    As far as intellect goes, the Farley Craft piece speaks for itself about the intellect of the authors as it reads like sophomoric masterpiece.

  14. This piece was on PRE for a long time, so it came as no surprise to me. I think that most of the women in the anti-crowd are more driven by concern over the collective image of womankind than concern for actual prostitutes.

    I think they are wrong about it though… why would Germany (legal prostitution and all) have a female chancellor if prostitution and pornography turned women into sex objects not to be taken seriously, while we here in the sexphobic USA have never had a woman in a higher position of power than Speaker of the House?

  15. What is the answer we always get?

    It must be that the Chanchellor is either brainwashed by the vast pro porn industry, being paid by the vast pro porn industry or if Andrea Lavigne MSW is correct, than the German Chanchellor is one of my vast army of infiltrators of feminism.

    Hanoi Jill

  16. Add to that–when I first saw this piece several years ago, I wrote a companion piece called “Why I Made the Choice to Become an Anti-Prostitution/Anti-Pornography Activist” which I assure you the fundamentalist anti-pros would not find funny at all. I assure you there would have been plenty of “hell yeahs” from women who felt pretty directly insulted by reading the Craft/Farley piece, some of whom have seen it privately, but we all agree that while it is a bit of a fun way to vent some of our frustration with the nastiness of the debates, it does nothing to support women who are fighting for their rights and their lives.

    I didn’t publish it because I thought it was snarky and unworthy of the high stakes of the debate. It was, however, equally intellectual.

    In case you can’t tell, the term “intellectual” tweaks me a bit–I find it somewhat classist and elitist.

  17. These anti prostitution rights people aren’t anti. They are slave owners. They are haters. And they are the discriminators. By maintaining the ban on prostitution they ineffect maintain the power of the poeple who don’t want us to have the right to our bodily freedom.

  18. Janfrey, regardless of whether it was satire or irony, or something else, that doesn’t make it any less disgusting and dehmanizing to sex workers. I have no idea why anybody who acts like they care about sex workers or are concerned about sex workers would actually write something so hateful and disrespectful to sex workers. If Farley and Craft are really so concerned about sex workers, then they need to be promoting respect for sex workers as humans, rather than writing these dehumanizing, degrading pieces that do nothing to benefit sex workers or decrease the abuse that they talk about. If anything, I’m concerned that this writing could increase disrespect toward sex workers and trivialize sex workers as legitimate humans making a living, thus encouraging more abuse.
    When Farley and Craft act like they have compassion for sex workers, I think that’s nothing more than just an act, and this horrendous piece that they wrote adds to that feeling.

  19. Sarcasm, derision, mockery–these are not the hallmarks of compassionate people or honest discourse. Every last one of us does it sometimes, but it’s not laudable.

  20. Even if every last one of us does use sarcasm, derision, and mockerey sometimes, not all of us have written about sex workers in such derogatory, hateful, dehumanizing ways, while also acting like we’re concerned about sex workers. It’s more the demeaning attitudes toward sex workers and hypocracy that disgust me than just sarcasm alone.

  21. Yes, the attitude behind that writing — no matter who wrote it or why but especially Craft and Farley — is what’s disturbing.

    XX

  22. I wrote a chapter in Melissa Farley’s recent book on the tactics that pimps use to control their “women” into not only working for them, giving them all their money, but also in staying attached to them and taking their abuse so that years down the road when they are worn out and have nothing to show for it and nothing left to sell – they turn around and blame the pimp for all their problems and walk away in tatters while he’s sitting in his nice house on the hill and wearing a rolex.

    One of their best tactics is to get the women fighting with each other – so they think the other women are the “enemy” and not what he’s doing to them. By getting them to focus on fighting each other – they don’t notice how they are really being sold down the river by the pimp.

    Everyone on here is focusing on Melissa Farley like she’s one of the “bottom bitches” getting all “uppity” that you women think you need to focus on putting her ” in her place” like she’s the real problem here.

    She’s not. And you acting like this tells me there’s a lot of women being pimped – and not by some black dude – but by the system itself now.

    If I added up the words and time spent typing all about Melissa Farley being the devil on this site – what a total waste of time.

    And not seeing the point at all.

    I’m not sure I understand why all the hatred towards her to be honest.

    She’s advocating that all women should stop being arrested for prostitution. What in the hell is so bad about that?

    She’s advocating for a legal change that has PROVEN to be effective in fighting human trafficking. That means less women and children forced to live like animals, turn tricks they don’t want to, and then be tossed out like trash or killed when they wear out their usefulness. I just read a story about a house in Florida where the traffickers were forcing the women to turn 20 – 30 tricks a day for $15 a pop.

    What is so wrong with doing something to stop this?

    She’s advocating that women who want to quit prostitution be offered exit and support services funded by the government. The pimps won’t fund them. The johns won’t fund them. Women working in the biz currently sure as hell won’t fund them. And by the time a woman needs these exit services – she usually can’t get the money for these services herself because of the very condition she’s in that is requiring them.

    I’m so sick of the money accusations also. I am not getting one penny from the sale of her book with my writing in it. Not one.

    The two days I spent doing the press conference and the UNLV panel – cost me a week of work because of the stress involved. That was a week I didn’t work and didn’t have the money to pay my power bill. If I didn’t have a friend who loaned me the money to pay my power bill the next week – I would not even be online right now.

    So what money is it we’re supposed to be banking off this work?

    I spent over a year solid writing the program and the grant applications to get PACE funded and opened in Canada some years ago.

    I sponsored Paige Latin when she was still working as an escort. I helped her quit because of her fear of getting killed because of all the murders of hookers going on in Canada the police were doing nothing about.

    After she quit – she started having women coming to her door in total fear because of the murders and the rapes and the HIV rate. She wound up with women sleeping all over her apartment and having to feed them ramen.

    Something had to be done. I spent over one year writing up the program outline for a place where women could go and get help. I researched where to get grant money. I wrote the grant applications and even the mission statements.

    The program received over a million dollars in government support the first year they opened their doors.

    I NEVER GOT A DIME FOR ANYTHING – NOT EVEN MY PHONE BILL OR POSTAGE COSTS or for the xeroxing or anything I did to get it funded and the doors opened.

    Then the women came in the doors who did decide it was all about money and stopped caring about the women the program was set up to serve. It became a joke and both me and Paige had to take our names and support completely off the project.

    I don’t think women should be going to jail. What’s wrong with that?

    For all the talk about Jeanne Palfrey – I contacted her to see if she needed any help with her trial and offered emotional support for what she’s going through. According to her – I’m the only one who has. Maybe she’s lying – but while everyone on here has been attacking Melissa Farley – I’ve offered help and spent some time offering some case history to help her attorney write some motions to help her case so she doesn’t go to jail. I talked to reporters for her so that maybe some good press will help her at sentencing time or even to get a dismissal.

    What are you guys doing to help her? Sorry – too busy bashing Melissa Farley.

    When I lived in Los Angeles and Allentown – I spent over a year and my own time and my own money getting an alternative sentencing program set up so that prostitutes who had been arrested would not go to jail, and would not be forced into a treatment center where they would lose their kids. In the programs I got legal approval for, wrote the program for, and got funded – allowed the women to get job training, counseling, and keep their kids instead of going to jail.

    I DIDN’T GET A DIME – NOT EVEN A JOB at the program. At each program – they wouldn’t hire me to work at the very program I helped design and get funded because I don’t have a degree.

    Since I’ve been in Las Vegas – I’ve been helping women who call me who want to get out of prostitution. I’ve bought plane tickets, driven them home, written resumes, paid their rent, had them sleeping on my couches, driven them to the hospital, taken them to see therapists, helped them get SSI approval, taken them to mental health to get free medications, sat with them to get their HIV results, and taken them to the ER room – and on and on and on.

    AND I’VE NEVER GOTTEN A DIME FOR THIS WORK.

    Instead of paying off a title loan on my car in August of this year – I helped a woman get an apartment. Paid to her her move-in costs, her lights turned on, phone on, etc. She’s got a job and on her feet now. My title loan is still due.

    SO PLEASE TELL ME WHERE ARE WE GETTING RICH OF THIS?

    Right now women are being trafficked. They are being pimped. They are being beaten. They are being arrested. http://jezebel.com/gossip/top/a-real+life-vegas-working-girl-roundup-289887.php
    This is how they are treated at the Las Vegas jail. They are being humiliated during police stings. They are raped during FBI stings and no one is prosecuted.

    Something needs to be done to help these women – and bitching about Melissa Farley isn’t going to get the job done.

    I remember when they had the bus strike over the blacks being told to sit in the back of the bus. Yes they boycotted the bus by not riding on them until things were changed. BUT they also organized car pools so people could get rides to work at the same time.

    If you want to fight for rights – that’s your choice. But to do so at the expense of those who need help and to attack people like me and Melissa who are trying to help those who cannot help themselves – doesn’t make any more sense then some women working all night turning tricks and then handing her money over to some pimp.

    Jody
    http://www.sexworkersanonymous.com

  23. Jody, thank you SO MUCH for posting. I mean that absolutely sincerely. I know you’d really rather not pay any attention to all of this. Thank you for your time.

    I agree that all that (the direct help you describe above) is more important than all this. I’m glad you do what you do, but pointing out that you do that has nothing to do with what we’re saying has gone on regarding the way abolitionists describe advocates. To imply that this discussion must never take place because it takes away from time that could be spent doing the direct actions you describe above is a bit misleading.

    The organizations listed in this post:
    https://deepthroated.wordpress.com/2007/09/27/paid-blogging
    are ones that many of us here, including me, have worked for or are working for. They also offer direct help for such situations as you describe. And those organizations struggle with funding like everyone else. I think people who work for these orgs, or any org, should get paid–I think people should get paid for grant-writing and such, not just because they’ve earned it but so that they can continue to do it. I don’ t think taking money is dirty…which one of my life’s points. I think if I had made a commitment to get paid for the work I was doing I might still be an activist. So think about getting paid.

    I don’t think people here are bashing the kind of direct help you offer. I think they’re bashing the bashing they’ve gotten in the past. If bashing folks who work for direct-help programs is insensitive to the suffering of prostitutes, the abolitionists are hardly innocent. We’ll never know who started it, but I can say that I see no evidence that the kind of abolitionists who rant against advocates are interested in stopping it, not when they’re so proud of a piece like the Craft/Farley one that they post it on their website ten years after they wrote it.

    And I know that there are abolitionists as well as advocates (using shorthand terms for convenience’s sake, you know what I mean) who are probably offended by the Craft/Farley piece. It’s just offensive.

    And remember, I am what you would consider a survivor. Yet at times (not at all times, mind you) I was working in conditions where I was aware enough of my privilege that I wanted to do things like outreach, to help people who were having a brutal time when I was not.

    The fact that I was doing the same work under different enough conditions that I wanted to help others is evidence of the range of experiences that need to be considered. It took me awhile to acknowlege some of the difficulties I had experienced and had seen other people experiencing at work because nobody wants to think of themselves as a victim. But those difficulties were not the same. They didn’t have the same solutions. Nobody needed to shelter me from a pimp, give me free condoms, get me to a hospital, save me from traffickers. In triage, women under those conditions get help first, yes, But there’s nothing wrong with acknowleging that there are other problems that require different kinds of help.

    Having your boss suddenly start charging you a third of your earnings when s/he was wasn’t a week ago is worth exploring (though it’s hardly solely a sex industry problem, speaking as someone who’s tried out other jobs). Believing that because you’re not a victim and you don’t hate your job you’re a disgusting person who no one could ever love is not trivial, which is why some of us have gone on and on about stigma in our written work. Struggling with resumes when you want to move on to other work is not trivial ; not wanting to get help with your resume from someone who sees you as irretrievably damaged is not trivial, either. Being blackmailed by, afraid of, or experiencing violence from people who are supposed to help you (could I be referring to the very same law enforcement folks who will be expected to implement the abolitionists’ proposed laws?) is not trivial. Questioning the efficacy of the TVPA is not trivial.

    People who have tried to contact Farley in the past and feel that they have been arrogantly ignored, dismissed as pimps, or directly insulted are not going to keep trying to get hold of her. She doesn’t need an engraved invitation delivered by a monkey butler. She can speak freely here or keep sending others to do it or whatever she likes.

    The way abolitionists spend some of their time has something to do with this conversation’s existence, too. The Craft/Farley piece is a perfect example of woman-on-woman contempt and derision–and I understand full well who that hatred is aimed at. If this conversation is the result of a pimp presence in the world, that pimp that drives woman against woman has got them working for him too.

    Now, I agree that the conversation about Farley has gone on for too long (which doesn’t mean it’s over) and am going to try to stay out of it for awhile. If I get upset I might join back in, or if a subject comes up and I have something pertinent to contribute, I might join in, but if I don’t keep debating, it won’t be because I’ve been so shamed by what was said that I can’t think of a response. I’m willing but I might not be able, and as you say, this is time-consuming.

  24. Jo: that was beautiful.

  25. Well it seems that the haters don’t want to answer for their lies, but they do take licence to harass. This is was forwarded to me this moring through the email addy from the ESPU site . This is completely unacceptable.
    Jody, you don’t have permission to contact me in or anyone else associated with ESPU in anyway.

    From: nightmarevault@gmail.com
    Subject:
    Date: September 28, 2007 1:44:05 AM PDT
    To: info@espu-ca.org
    If you see how often I post under my own name – you’d know I wouldn’t have time to post under the names Josie or Willow.

    Is that how you can invalidate what we’re saying? Claiming we’re all one person?

    How much crack you been smoking to be that paranoid?

    Jody

  26. We have no way of knowing whether all the prohibitionists on this board are the same person, just like we have no way of knowing whether certain individuals who are advocating for the decminiaization of prostitution have more than one user name on this board.
    That being said, I thought the comment above about crack was so ignorant, stereotypical, and disrespectful to sex workers. I’ve noticed various disrespectful, degrading comments toward sex workers from people who act like they’re concerned about sex workers. Please, let’s stop the hypcracy. Please don’t act like you care about sex workers and then make comments like the one stated above or write pieces that make fun of sex workers like the piece by Melissa Farley and Nikki Craft that is posted on “Bound Not Gagged”

  27. Jody, this blog formed in part as a way to support Deborah Jean Palfrey in getting her side of the story out. I called her as soon as I got her telephone number and have spoken with both her and her publicist. Some of us have also been in touch with her lawyers. In the archives, you can find our liveblogs about her.

    I want to echo what Jo offered — that we don’t want to narrowly focus on Farley, but as she is working right now to discredit so much work of sex worker human rights advocates — to view sex work as work and to find protections for sex workers as workers and to support sex workers to be free from violence, coercion, and arrest on the job — that it’s sometimes hard to see the common ground we could have with her. I’m thankful that you have written and done so much to support prostitutes. And that you are still reading and writing here.

  28. some thoughts to ponder

    1. Jody it is great that you are doing all that you are doing to help women get out of prostitution. Women exiting the sex industry often need dedicated advocate/activists that are doing what you are for them

    2. There are many sex worker rights activists doing the same. Some doing the same to help women exit, others to provide resources needed for women in the sex industry that for whatever reason are not leaving to remain alive. Some of us work with women in the sex industry because their lives are equally important to those leaving the sex industry and there needs to be activist/advocates for both.

    3. What you’ve done is great but it is no more than I have done, no more than what others have done. Most of us take a huge financial loss for the work we do because we care. While you personally may not be getting funding, many of your abolitionist colleagues are. Farley’s thirty percent received from the government is thirty percent more than all the chapters of SWOP received. As ED of SWOP East I can state without question that everything has come out of our pockets.

    4. You haven’t received any money from being published in Farley’s books. I never received any for being published in Donna Hughes’ or Gloria Steinem’s. Maybe there is a message in that.

    5. Before we break out the annointing oil for Farley, perhaps a few thoughts. Perhaps she could admit she is wrong on occasion. That piece with Craft is abysmal. She has heard this from both sides of the political divide. You stating to me in private message that she and Craft were not creating satire but rather just quoting the words of actual sex workers only magnifies the abuse being perpetrated by Craft and Farley in that horrendous piece. Advocacy like that isn’t exactly a gift.

    6. Farley’s research is slanted, pre determined and steeped in her own opinion. It isn’t research it is propaganda using victim/survivors as fodder to advance her career. While I have little doubt that the women she interviewed expressed what she states and that their views are very valid, stringing them together as independent research does nothing to help them or anyone else. It distorts and conflates the actual issues in ways that will harm everyone involved in sex worker/ prostituted women advocacy and those being assisted.

    7. Chicago circa 2001, three survivors on a panel pour their life stories out in survivor testimony, reliving very significant events that were/are traumatic, and get minimal speaking fees that are 10 percent of what Farley gets for her “keynote” presentation. You tell me who is doing more? The survivors that put themselves, their lives,their histories, their psychological welfare on the line discussing their pasts in the sex industry in a room filled with law enforcement or Farley quoting from her studies? Farley who get 10 times what the survivors on the panel got for money. Survivors who were all probably working for minimum wage or just above in jobs after leaving the sex industry. Farley’s voice and research isn’t worth that kind of money in comparison to what is being given by survivors putting it all on the table in a hostile crowd. There is a world of difference in having a group of cops challenge your research vs. challenging being raped, assaulted and many other tragic events.

    8. If Farley is being harmed by the criticism perhaps she should address the criticism herself or perhaps ask herself why the people she claims to represent are so critical of her work. Rather than placing herself above the rest of us as some elite expert, maybe she should do some more research and this time listen to everyone, not just those she selects.

    9. On criticizing Farley: Farley was a vocal critic of me starting in 1997, trying very hard to keep my voice from being published by her usual condescending and threatening bullshit directed at the author giving me voice. This at a time when all I was doing was recounting my experiences as a trafficking victim. Only I used one incorrect word which made me suspect. I had never even heard of Melissa Farley when she started her bullshit about me. Thus criticism comes from her freely and she doesn’t exactly make an effort to give voice to those that she deems unworthy.

    10, While Andrea Dworkin wrote many books that inspired many to do good work, she also got ten thousand dollars plus expenses for a speaking gig in Minneapolis. Ten thousand dollars to do a speech. Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money that took activists a year of fundraising at the metrodome in Minneapolis to raise. Ten thousand dollars would have funded a lot of projects that helped sex workers/prostituted women far more than a Dworkin speech. This is not criticism of those who raised the money to bring Dworkin. I believe they had the best of intentions. But I question why Dworkin needed ten thousand dollars for 1 speech. Ten thousand dollars for a speech? ???

    One last thought. Why is it Farley and Craft can never openly address questions? Instead doing so only to partisan crowds under the protection of moderated settings.

    If Farley wants to stop being criticized maybe she should start listening to those challenging her work. Maybe she should stop answering valid questions by slandering Robyn Few or making public and private psychological diagnosis of activists she has barely ever even met. If she and her peers want to stir the pot it’s going to get hot and they need to be able to handle the heat they create.

    Why is it always the same process? Farley and Craft do whatever the want, say whatever they want and if they get criticism, they hide in the rose garden and other activists have to defend them? Perhaps Farley and Craft need to find a role model other than LBJ.

  29. Jody, based on what I read in other threads on this blog, it seemed as if you may be interested in working with us. However, reading your reply to this thread in whcih you vehemently defended Melissa Farley without validating the feelings that we expressed toward this degarding piece by Farley and Nikki Craft leads me to question how much you really are interested in working with us. I’m not a mind reader so i’m not going to tell you what you think, but we’ve expressed our feelings toward this piece by Farley and Craft and you showed no compassion at all. If you had at least wrote something like, “You have the right to feel how you do, but……..” and then went onto defend Farley, then that would be one thing, but you didn’t even show the tiniest bit of respect toward our feelings. You seem to be on somebody’s side, and it’s not our’s. If you’d like to work with us, then please show some respect and empathy for how we feel, even if you don’t agree with us on everything.

  30. Jody wrote, not the jody who emailed me,

    Everyone on here is focusing on Melissa Farley like she’s one of the “bottom bitches” getting all “uppity” that you women think you need to focus on putting her ” in her place” like she’s the real problem here.

    She is the problem and she does need to be put in her place. She puts forward the Swedish model that criminalized my economy, i.e. customers. You can’t put forward a policy that effects to the detriment my economy. The Swedish model has the same effects as the criminalization of prostitution here in California as has already been stated on this blog. The Swedish model ceates poverty. She can’t put forward any changes that would effect my economy without my permission period.
    You rhetoric on pimps is over simplified and isn’t connected to the larger economy of the exploits of capitalism that exist in the business and it contributes to the public being misinformed about our economy and debases our voices from being self determined whether we’re working consensual or forced. Melissa’s book perpetuates the discrimination against us ALL. Her irresponsible behavior must stop. It’s hurting US.
    She has received money from the feds for research when the feds ought to be investigating the labor racketeering that is taking place in the dance clubs which is being sponsored by the city of san Francisco and state of California. The criminalization of the prostitution laws have contributed to this exploitation of the dance club workers where by workers have to stop working the clubs in order to become a member of the class action lawsuit dejure to get back her illegally taken wages.
    We don’t want legalization. We want complete decriminalization across the board and that would include our clients. Decrim across the board will free the sex slaves Jody. It’s the corruption at the fed, state and local level law enforcement the creates the climate of exploitation and the policies Melissa has helped create those policies which have contributed directly to detriment of those she says she wants to help.

  31. […] is a good take down of this post here, which includes a look at Farleys co author Nikki Craft. The organisation set up by Farley, the […]

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